It doesn’t pay not to pay – and to try to cheat the system.
At least, that’s what The Real Housewives of New Jersey‘s Teresa Giudice and her husband, Joe, discovered Thursday when they were sentenced to 15 months and 41 months in prison, respectively, for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud.
So, what exactly did they do to deserve such a harsh punishment?
According to judge Esther Salas, who was presiding over the case at the U.S. District Court in Newark, it was more of a question of what they didn’t do. The Giudices were supposed to come to court with probation reports thoroughly filled out, listing their assets and specific financial information – yet the judge said there were still missing items totaling $75,000.
“On one hand, I see you’re a savvy businesswoman,” Salas told Teresa. “But then you’re going to tell me you don’t know how to cooperate with probation? Full disclosure of your financial assets was a requirement. The lack of transparency, that’s what offends the court.”
The couple were initially indicted in 2013, when they were accused of hiding their fortune in a bankruptcy filing. Joe was also accused of failing to file tax returns between 2004 and 2008.
Judge Salas told Joe’s lawyer that there were “glaring omissions and inconsistencies” in the probation reports, and that the couple had an “obligation to be transparent, and I don’t think I got that.” Some items on the government reports that were left off the probation reports included ATVs, a 1997 Corvette and household furnishings totaling $25,000.
“For a moment I thought about probation,” the judge said. “I don’t honestly believe you understand or respect the law. I need to send a message. In the eye of the law, it doesn’t matter who you are. There are consequences to pay.”